Monitoring Urban Copper Flows in Stockholm, Sweden: Implications of Changes Over Time

In this study, a substance flow analysis (SFA) for copper (Cu) was conducted, in which the inflow, stock, and outflow (in the form of diffuse emissions to soil and water) for Stockholm were estimated for 2013 and compared with a previous study from 1995, hence allowing a discussion on changes over time. A large number of applications containing Cu were analyzed (including power cables, copper alloys, heavy electrical equipment, tap water systems, roofs, cars, various consumer electronics, wood preservatives, and contact cables for the railroad). The results show that the inflow of Cu to Stockholm has increased between 1995 and 2013, both in total and per person, mainly as the result of an increase in heavy electrical equipment, power cables, and cars. The stock remains relatively unchanged, whereas the outflow has increased. For the outflow, the emission increase from brake linings is of greatest quantitative importance, with an estimated 5.8 tonnes annual emission of Cu to the environment of Stockholm in 2013 compared to 3.9 tonnes in 1995. Given that increasing inflows of limited resources drive the global demand, continuous monitoring of flows through society and management of outflow routes are crucial, including improvement of national legislation and regional environmental plans as well as efforts to increase resource-use efficiency and recycling.

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